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Thursday 1st June 2023

Can I Claim Compensation for a Water Sports Injury or Accident?

water sports on urassic coastWater sports can be a great outlet for thrill-seeking adrenaline junkies looking for a new adventure while on vacation or a frequently enjoyed pastime. Unfortunately, whether you are enjoying the beautiful Jurassic Coast of East Devon or holidaying abroad, they are also one of the most common kinds of accident for holidaymakers.

Roger Henderson, a specialist personal injury law solicitor at Rundlewalker in Exeter, outlines how water sports accidents can be caused and explains how you might go about claiming compensation if an injury was not your fault.

Water sports injuries can be sustained from all sorts of activities, but the following are particularly hazardous:

  • snorkelling and scuba diving;
  • jet skis and speedboats;
  • water-skiing or wakeboarding;
  • surfing or white water rafting;
  • kayaking or paddleboarding;
  • parasailing or kiteboarding.

The injuries that can be sustained range from cuts and bruises, to fractures or concussion, right up to life-changing injuries such as spinal damage or brain injury.

Some water sports accidents are no-one’s fault at all, but sometimes they result from human error and a lack of regard for health and safety shown by those participating or those who organise the water sports sessions.

You would be entitled to make a compensation claim against those that organised your water sports session if they had failed in their duty to keep you safe. For example, this might involve:

  • failing to provide adequate supervision with appropriately qualified staff;
  • failing to properly assess risk and have adequate policies or failing to follow them;
  • providing insufficient training to you;
  • inadequate warning signs;
  • giving you faulty or badly maintained equipment to use; and
  • inadequate safety equipment or support.

To successfully bring a claim for compensation you need to show the organiser was negligent. This means proving they owed you a duty of care, they failed in that duty, and you were injured as a result of that failure. For most water sports accidents, negligence would be found if the organiser had failed to act how a ‘reasonable man’ or the famous ‘man on the Clapham omnibus’ would act in a similar situation.

You usually have three years to bring a personal injury claim from the date of your accident, but it is always best to speak to our team as early as possible while evidence is still readily available, and events are still fresh in your mind and of anyone else involved. It is a good idea to gather evidence from the accident scene and afterwards, which your solicitor will use to strengthen your case. This includes:

  • names and contact details of any eyewitnesses;
  • photos of the accident scene, your injuries, and any equipment you suspect was faulty;
  • any CCTV footage of the event;
  • records of any medical treatment required following the accident;
  • a written account of the accident and how your injuries have affected you; and
  • details of any expenses which have arisen from your injury.

How much compensation will I receive?
The compensation you receive will depend on the extent of your injuries and your long-term prognosis, but could include damages for:

  • pain and suffering (mental or physical);
  • loss of earnings;
  • medical expenses;
  • loss of potential earnings;
  • out-of-pocket expenses; or
  • adaptations required to your home.

If you or someone you know has suffered a water sports injury, please contact Roger Henderson on 01392 209218 or email

The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published.